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Anthony John Paynter King 1929-2017

xgfjProfessional marine underwriter who developed his interest in geology in his own time and helped the Society re-draft its byelaws

Tony King was born 6 June 1929. He died 16 August 2017 at home in Kent, following a few years of decline during which he suffered from a form of dementia. An outgoing and generous man, Tony was a jovial individual who, even latterly, despite his debilitating illness, would greet his carers with smiles.


Brought up in Lancashire, Tony obtained his National Certificate, and after National Service embarked on an insurance career: starting with the Norwich Union before moving to the Orion Insurance Company and the London and Overseas Insurance Company as a marine underwriter. He retired in June 1992. 

An avid learner, Tony studied in the evenings resulting in his associateship and Fellowship of the Chartered Insurance Institute.  He then pursued his lifelong interest in geology, especially volcanoes, starting an Open University degree ‘for fun’.  This led to family holidays to the West Country and to Arran (where visits to key geological localities were an important ingredient), as well as to his interest in the management of professional societies.

Travelling widely throughout the world he represented the London Insurance Market internationally for work. This opened opportunities to combine business with geological pleasure. He was often accompanied by his wife Wendy, for example, visiting many notable geological localities in Australia, North America, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

sadtuTony was an active Fellow of the Society (joining 1977). He was a member of the Charter and ByeLaws Working Party, under Sir John Knill (photo), which re-drafted the Society’s Byelaws completely in the late 1990s.  He was also an enthusiastic participant of the Society’s Dining Club.  A stalwart member of the Geologists’ Association, Tony served on its Council in the early 1980s before becoming President (1984-86).

Picture:  Charter & Byelaws Working Party:  R-L  Tony King, Rodney Charteris, Sir John Knill, Prof. Duncan Murchison, Prof. Jake Hancock. Photo: Ted Nield


Tony’s involvement with the Edinburgh Geological Society (joining 1979-80) came about in 1983 through contact with fellows of the Society (including another Kentish participant Margaret Rusbridge) during a geological excursion to Shetland led by Dr Wally Mykura for the GA. From then on for over a decade the ever-ebullient Tony, accompanied by Wendy, attended many of the Society’s week-long excursions, including many to the NW Highlands and Islands.

For many years he and Wendy enjoyed visits to Edinburgh, where they had a residence in town, and they were regular attenders of the Society’s annual Social Evenings in December, and Fellows Nights in February.  At one of these he gave a vivid first-hand account of a helicopter visit in March 1983 to Mount St Helens including a description of a dramatic and rapid evacuation (with rock samples on board) following a steam and ash eruption from the lava dome.

A strong supporter of the work of the Geological Survey, Tony took a keen interest in the hotly debated decision (deferred until much more recently) to move the Scottish Survey’s fossil collections from Edinburgh to Keyworth in 1992. He recognized the strategic value of retaining an onsite macrofossil collection and macropalaeontology expertise as key components of the stratigraphical work of the Survey north of the border. His support of Survey geologists who advocated retaining this resource, defying their Director at the time, is not forgotten.


Tony’s immensely cheerful and friendly character was matched by keen organisational abilities and strategic vision. He seldom lacked energy for a project in both his professional career and in his contributions to the many organisations to which he belonged. He claimed that regular family holidays in Lanzarote, following his retirement, helped recharge his batteries - in reality they simply boosted his built-in dynamism. 

He and Wendy enjoyed 59 years of married life, during which they brought up a family of four in their Kent home. Tony is survived by Wendy who tirelessly cared for him in his declining years, his three sons Jeremy, Jonathan, and Timothy and his daughter Debbie and four grandchildren. Anthony John Paynter King FICC FGS 1929-2017

By Andrew McMillan, with contributions from Jeremy and Debbie King